Idaho families struggling with hunger just got a big boost from Dairy West. The organization, which represents Idaho and Utah dairy farmers, recently donated a new refrigerated truck to The Idaho Foodbank to increase the nonprofit's ability to safely store milk and other perishable food products and deliver them to food pantries throughout the Gem State.
Adorned with a vehicle wrap that proclaims, "Feeding Families -- Building Healthy Communities," the 26-foot 2020 Kenworth T370 refrigerated truck cost $115,000 and can store roughly 1,800 gallons of fresh milk.
According to Karen Vauk, President and CEO of The Idaho Foodbank, dairy foods are among the most requested but least available items at food pantries nationwide.
"Dairy proteins are so critical to a nutritious diet and there is a huge demand for milk, cheese, and yogurt among those we serve," Vauk says. "It's easy for people to give canned and dry goods, but the perishable nature of dairy foods makes it challenging to donate. Dairy West's generous donation of a refrigerated truck is a game changer for The Idaho Foodbank, our partners, and the families we serve."
Meanwhile, Albertsons customers donated $20,866.79 to benefit The Idaho Foodbank and its clients via a "Moo Bucks" campaign the retailer staged with Dairy West the first two weeks of June. The Foodbank will use the funds to purchase and distribute dairy foods to clients and give them vouchers to redeem for milk. Albertsons Market Street in Meridian and Albertsons in Ammon were recognized as the top collecting and second top collecting stores, respectively.
Dairy West CEO Karianne Fallow says the milk gap in the U.S. is significant and daunting.
"On average, people served by food banks receive the equivalent of less than 1 gallon of milk per person per year, but you need to drink 68 gallons a year to meet the FDA's daily recommendations," Fallow says. "One in seven Americans relies on food banks for nutritional assistance, and here at home in one of the top agricultural-producing states in the country more than 210,000 Idahoans -- including nearly 70,000 children -- are food insecure."
Fallow says milk and other dairy foods are a great choice for people struggling with hunger.
"Dollar for dollar, milk is one of the most nutrient-packed foods a family can have on the table," she says. "One serving of milk provides eight grams of protein and nine essential nutrients, including three of the top nutrients commonly missing in the American diet."
Fallow says Idaho dairy farm families have worked closely with local food pantries for decades to provide their food-insecure neighbors with nourishment they desperately need. And since 1998, Dairy West and its predecessor, United Dairymen of Idaho, have supported The Idaho Foodbank with cash contributions for the A Chef's Affaire annual gala, its Backpack program providing nutritious weekend meals for kids during the school year, the "Cookies from the Heart" partnership with the Girl Scouts of Silver Sage and Albertsons, and other efforts.
Fallow has been a member of The Idaho Foodbank's Board of Directors since 2014.
ABOUT THE IDAHO FOODBANK
The Idaho Foodbank is an independent, donor-supported, nonprofit organization founded in 1984 and is the largest distributor of free food assistance in Idaho. From facilities in Boise, Lewiston, and Pocatello, the organization has distributed more than 170 million pounds of food in its 35-year history. In the last fiscal year, it distributed enough food to provide more than 17.5 million meals to Idaho families. The Idaho Foodbank distributes food through a network of more than 400 community-based partners, including schools, pantries, senior centers, feeding sites, and shelters. It recognizes the connection between hunger and health and operates direct-service programs in communities to promote good nutrition and healthy living. Visit IdahoFoodbank.org for more information. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
ABOUT DAIRY WEST
Dairy West is a regional dairy promotion organization established in 2017 to represent dairy farmers, processors, and supply chain partners in Idaho and Utah. A Qualified Program regulated by the USDA National Dairy Promotion & Research Board, the 501(c)(6) organization raises awareness of the importance of dairy farming, promotes the health and nutritional benefits of dairy foods, and encourages global demand for Idaho and Western U.S. dairy foods through coordinated marketing and communications efforts, nutrition counseling, and research programs. Visit DairyWest.com for more information.